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THE NATCHEZ

The drawings below are all the work of LePage Du Pratz, a French artist
who recorded the daily life of Indians in the French Colonial South of the 1750s

When the explorers Hernando De Soto came through the Southeast, his journalists wrote of encountering a people who worshiped the sun. It is thought that these remarkable people were the Natchez. They are the most important of the Temple Mound builders to survive to modern times. The Natchez led a very paticular lifestyle.

Hierarchy of the Natchez

There was a ruler called The Great Sun. He was the supreme leader -- the king and a high priest -- but he answered to a panel of elders. The Great Sun lived in a temple -- a house built on a mound. Only The Great Sun and a few officials were permitted to enter the temple. Posted outside were two guardians. The Great Sun's family were known as the Little Suns; the principal female relative chose his successor. from his male relatives. Other persons of great respect were the 2 war chiefs, who were selected by The Great Sun. Below them was a level called the Nobles, then a level called the Honored Men. Then there were the common people referred to as the Stinkards (they were not called Stinkards to their faces). The Stinkards, not surprisely, were not treated well at all.

Descent Holding

The Suns were forbidden to intermarry; they HAD to marry from among the Stinkards. Children of male Suns were Nobles; they were made to marry Stinkards. Children of male Nobles were Honored Men and were made to marry Stinkards. The children of Honored Men were Stinkards.

Children of female Suns were Suns. Children of female Nobles were Nobles. Children of Honored Women were Honored People. Children of Stinkards were Stinkards.

The Great Sun

The Great Sun was carried to the Festival of New Corn on a litter made of a goose down bolster and luxurious furs. The elders wakened him mornings with cires and bows that he ignored. The Great Sun demanded that all be subserviant to him; his behavior so extreme that one observer was moved to say, "... if he demands the life of any one of them he comes himself to present his head."

Female Sun Power

Female Suns led lives of ease; their power was wielded behind the scenes. And a Stinkard husband of a female Sun was forced to stand in his wife's company. He had to shout praise of her constantly and was forbidden to take meals with her. She could get rid of him for any casual reason and she was allowed to live as she pleased. Young girls were allowed complete freedom, in every sense, but as soon as they married they kept quieter lives.

Personal Appearance

The Natchez practiced head-flattening -- heads were flattened to a point. Warriors wore their hair cut shaved on one side, long on the other. The priests wore tonsures. Tattooing was popular among the warriors, considered war medals.

Practice of Torture and Slavery

Male captives of the Natchez were made to sing and dance before the temple, then were scalped., strapped to frames then tortued and burned, during which period (usually 3 days) the captive had to sing his death song, until he died. Women and children were made slaves and put to menial tasks.

 

 

Of the Natchez on this site:

Chinnabee
Selocta

 

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